CLOTA’s comedy with a twist to open Friday

Female version of ’Odd Couple’ puts new spin on Neil Simon favorite

Community Light Opera And Theatre Association Director Larry Lier said there’s nothing odd about the way he thinks local audiences will respond to “The Odd Couple—Female Version” when it premieres at Center Stage this weekend.

“They’re going to love it,” he said, “and that’s the least odd and the most natural response you can expect for one of the funniest American comedies ever written.”

Playwright Neil Simon garnered the Tony Award as the author of “The Odd Couple” when it first shimmered under Broadway stage lights in 1965 starring Walter Matthau and Art Carney.

Since then his take on the mayhem generated when a fussy perfectionist and an easy-going slob try to share living space has built an audience of millions through numberless stage productions, a highly successful film version with Matthau and Jack Lemmon and three TV series from 1970 to 1983.

In 1985 Simon revised his smash-hit crowd pleaser for a female cast, and this is the version that will blossom at Center Stage this summer.

Margo Grace Carr, a newcomer to the CLOTA stage, will portray housework- and cookery-hating Olive Madison while Becki Cornett (Madame Baptista in last season’s “The Taming of the Shrew”) enacts finicky, dysfunction-prone Florence Unger.

Katie Adams, another Shrew alumna (Gremio) and Chalen Wilson, seen previously in Cerro Coso’s “Brothers Grimm Spectacu-lathon” and “The Little Shop Of Horrors,” are two of the Trivial Pursuits players who convene weekly in Olive’s apartment.

They’re joined by Mary Valentine, making her CLOTA acting debut, and multitalented Pearl Woolam, who directed “Shrew” and whose gamut of acting skills has stirred audience cheers in numerous CLOTA hits, including “Cabaret” and “An Inspector Calls.”

Completing the population who inhabit this segment of Neil Simon’s comic universe, Thomas Cozine and Richard Wagner will depict the Costazuela brothers, Olive’s upstairs neighbors who drop in for what swiftly becomes the hilariously tragic opposite of the perfect first-date night.

Cozine has honed his performance proficiency in an impressive variety of shows produced by the Ridgecrest Community Theater Troupe and Cerro Coso Community College, as well as by CLOTA. Wagner, who also has appeared in productions staged by the other two theater groups and High Desert Players, will be making his CLOTA stage debut.

“The Odd Couple – Female Version,” which contains adult content, opens this Friday, July 19, at CLOTA Center Stage, 1425 N. Inyo St. The remainder of the run consists of evening performances July 20, 26 and 27, Aug. 2 and 3, and a Sunday matinee July 28. Lights go up at 7:30 p.m. for the evening shows, and the matinee starts at 2 p.m.; doors open 30 minutes earlier.

Red Rock Books is handling ticket sales. All seats for opening night and the matinee are $8. Prices for the other performances are $12 for general admission and $10 for seniors, students, enlisted active-duty military and CLOTA members. To learn more, call the CLOTA hotline at 760-446-2411.

Story First Published: 2013-07-17